My Top 5 games of 2001: #2 Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (PS2)

Developed: Konami Computer Entertainment Japan
Published: Konami
Genre: Stealth Action
Platform: PS2 (reviewed), Xbox, PC, 360, PS3

As you may already be aware, I'm a pretty big Metal Gear fan. Of course at the time that this one came out, the only game in the series that I had played was Metal Gear Solid. I didn't even know that Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 existed back then, in fact. Regardless, Metal Gear Solid was my absolute favorite game at the time so I was pumped as hell for the sequel. Every trailer that came out was just mind blowing. Just like with Max Payne and Final Fantasy X, I couldn't believe how good the game looked. Of course I thought the same thing about Donkey Kong Country and Chrono Trigger but you get my point.

Metal Gear Solid 2 is the continuation of the story of Solid Snake. In the first Metal Gear Solid, he stopped a terrorist uprising in a remote Alaska nuclear disposal facility, but between that game and this one (which takes place only 2 years later), he and his best buddy Otacon have gone rogue to combat the sudden boom of Metal Gear (the series titular giant robots) designs that hit the black market. They have dedicated their lives since then to eradicating the threat that Metal Gear poses on the world in hopes that people will one day live free of the fear of such destructive weapons.

I need to give a quick shout out to Al Cu Ad Solte of I used a lot of screens from his Let's Play of MGS2. Just like in my Persona 4 article, there were a lot of screenshots that I couldn't find anywhere else. Again, I hope that's okay but if it's not and in the unlikely event that you'll even read this, Al Cu Ad Solte, just email me and I'll take the screens down. I really need to get a TV tuner.
The game opens with Snake walking along the George Washington bridge in New York during a rainy night. He exposits (expect to see that word and its synonyms over and over) that he and Otacon received intel that the US Marine Corps has been developing its own version of Metal Gear and he intends to get photographic evidence of it to give to the media. Ever since the events of MGS1 became public knowledge, people have been wary of the dangers posed by Metal Gear robots, so the idea that the US government has been making them would look quite bad.

Snake soon reaches the center of the bridge where he bungees off the side and lands rather roughly on a large Marine Corps cargo boat. Soon after he arrives however, a large group of terrorists, including regular series villain Revolver Ocelot, arrive on the boat and kill all of the Marines on deck and in the bridge. Ocelot sees Snake and seems to have been expecting him, but leaves Snake be for the time being.
Snake sneaks his way to the bridge where he spots one of the leaders of the terrorists, Olga Gurlukovich, on the deck outside. He is forced to incapacitate her but leaves her alive for whatever reason. If you've read my Metal Gear Solid 4 article, you'd know that Olga's daughter helps save the world in that game so good thing Snake didn't kill her. Just goes to show you that you never know the future consequences of your actions. By the way, Olga is Pregnant at this point so maybe that tranquilizer gun Snake used to knock her out is why Sunny is so damn weird. Anyway, before he heads back inside, a small, remotely piloted military drone takes a picture of him before flying off, leaving Snake and Otacon puzzled about its intentions.
I may not have found a picture of Johnny's shitty pants for my MGS4 article but I did find one of Olga's hairy pits. I can't help but wonder if that's one of Kojima's fetishes... I am so mean to that man.
Snake makes his way into the cargo hold where Marine Commandant Scott Dolph (who, fun fact, is named after one of Metal Gear series creator Hideo Kojima's best friends) is giving a speech to a huge group of Marines about how awesome their Metal Gear is. Snake soon finds the new Metal Gear, codenamed Ray, and takes his photos. Just as he uploads the photos to Otacon however, Ocelot and Olga's father, Sergei, suddenly show up and take the Commandant hostage. Ocelot then promptly betrays Sergei, saying that he intends to take Metal Gear Ray to the Patriots, who Dolph refers to as the La-Li-Lu-Le-Lo in shock.
Oh man, stop the presses. Ocelot betrayed someone.
I guess I'll explain the Patriots again. It's a bit of a spoiler but the Patriots are essentially the real leaders of the U.S. in the Metal Gear universe. They are completely unitary, wanting to control every aspect of the world, even going as far as having their name censored by anyone who knows about them and has government nanomachines, which is why Dolph referred to them as the La-Li-Lu-Le-Lo. Interesting story about that codename. It was chosen specifically because there is no L sound in Japanese, making it impossible to say in that language. I'm not sure if they're codenamed that in the Japanese version of the game but regardless, it's an interesting touch that most players probably don't know about.

Ocelot shoots and kills Dolph and Sergei, then a bunch of Gurlukovich soldiers in probably the coolest scene in the game. Ocelot always gets the best scenes. He had the best scene in MGS4 when he first takes over the SOP system and he has probably my favorite scene in MGS 3 which I'll get to some day. Anyway, he takes out a rather comically sized detonator and sets off explosives placed around the ship, causing the room to start flooding.

As Ocelot makes his way to Ray's cockpit, Snake runs over and yells at him to stop. Ocelot then does something that I thought was the weirdest shit I had ever seen at the time. He begins to scream and rips off one of his sleeves, but soon calms and refers to Snake as "brother." That's right; Ocelot is possesed by the main villain of MGS1, Liquid Snake, Snake's brother (Specifically, they're both cloned from the same man. Whatever. This shit is confusing enough.). Except he isn't because as you may know from my MGS4 article, it turns out it was hypnosis all along. What is this, freakin' Oldboy or something?

As I said in that article, Ocelot lost his arm in MGS1 and after Liquid died (of a disease mind you) Ocelot had his arm grafted onto him to replace his own. Never mind the fact that Ocelot is seen running off with his arm in the scene where it gets severed so you'd think they could reattach it but whatever, he had a ridiculous Xanatos gambit to pull off. They also reveal in MGS3 that Ocelot is the son of the Sorrow, who was history's greatest spirit medium, implying that he already has a predisposition to being possessed. But whatever; its hypnosis.
Anyway. Ocelot or Liquid or whatever gets into Metal Gear Ray and wrecks the ship up even worse. Snake is thrown overboard and the scene shifts back to Ocelot, who I guess is done being fake possessed, talking to the President for whatever reason. Apparently Ocelot was the one who took the photos of Snake with the flying drone and plans to use them to smear Snake on the news.

Cut to 2 years later, we hear a familiar voice. It's Colonel Campbell, Snake's commanding officer in MGS1! Yay! He's speaking to a young man that he refers to as Snake but it's obviously not the Snake that we're familiar with. He talks about the incident with the Marine ship sinking, which caused a huge oil spill in the Hudson River.
A massive, oil drilling platform-like clean-up facility called the Big Shell was built on top of the spill but it was recently taken over by terrorists, led by a group of super-human terrorism experts (Not a joke. Their job before they went rogue was to commit mock terrorist attacks to train the military.) known as Dead Cell, who have taken the President of the United States along with about 30 other people hostage.

They're demanding 30 billion dollars in exchange for the hostages and are threatening to kill them and demolish the facility if their demands aren't met. This would apparently cause an even worse disaster as the chemicals being used to clean the oil out of the river would pour into it all at once and poison the water for an undetermined amount of time. Jeeze.

"Snake" infiltrates the Big Shell through a small port at the bottom of the tall facility. As he arrives, 2 teams of Navy SEALs also show up, but they are unaware of his presence. His mission is apparently so top secret that even Navy SEALs aren't in the loop on it. His mission, by the way, is to rescue the President and the other hostages and ensure that the Big Shell isn't destroyed. Piece of cake.

As he arrives, Campbell decides to change "Snake's" codename to Raiden and thank god cause this would get really confusing to write otherwise. Raiden soon finds that someone entered through the same port as him, knocking out a bunch of terrorists on the way to the elevator up, and it wasn't any of the SEALs. I woooooooooonder who that could be...
Raiden takes his rebreather off, revealing his goofy, anime-like, white hair and solidifies his place of infamy among fans right off the bat. I'll say right now that I have no big problems with Raiden. I never did, and I may be the only person who would willingly say that. For those who don't know, you play as Raiden, rather than Snake, for the rest of the game and a lot of people hate him for that. Well that and he is kind of an annoying moron.

Probably just as hated is Raiden's girlfriend, Rosemary, who is the character who calls him the second most after Campbell. And every God damn time she has some dumb shit to say about their relationship. Kinda busy saving the President, sweetie. It might have to wait. One time she calls him up hysterical because she went into his bedroom once and saw that he has no posters or family pictures on the walls and apparently that freaked her out. Good God. She's supposed to be the "mission analyst" who saves your game, which she does, but whenever you call her up she's got some stupid new thing to talk about. Thank God you can skip cutscenes in this game.

As Raiden takes the elevator up to the main facility, Campbell tells him about the terrorists who call themselves the Sons of Liberty. Name drop! Their leader claims to be Solid Snake but Campbell is convinced that Snake died when the tanker sank. Raiden makes his way to the "strut" where the President was last spotted and I guess I should explain the layout of the Big Shell for clarity's sake.
 The Big Shell is composed of 14 buildings, called struts, raised high above the water, laid out in the shape of two hexagons with 6 buildings on each side surrounding a large central building. These 2 arrangements are referred to as Shells 1 and 2 with the first few hours of Raiden's mission taking place in Shell 1 and the rest in Shell 2. Understand? Good.

Raiden finds a grisly sight in strut B where one of the SEAL teams was last heard from. Several of them are already dead in the main hall of the building and Raiden sees all but one of the remaining SEALs get massacred by a lightning fast man in a trench coat. The last SEAL gets lucky though and isn't killed by the crazy man who is called by one of his comrades over the radio and promptly leaves.

The SEAL takes his mask off and we see that it's Snake, who Raiden doesn't recognize for whatever reason even though Snake was supposedly all over the news after the tanker incident, for which he was blamed. Snake, calling himself Pliskin (clever), somehow infiltrated a Navy SEAL team for reasons yet unknown. He was injured fighting the crazy man, who is Vamp by the way and the first member of Dead Cell introduced, who I talked a bit about in my MGS4 article.
Who do you think you're fooling? Raiden. That's who.
He's a seemingly immortal man who claims to be a vampire but in reality he just has super powerful nanomachines that can heal any wound. Why wouldn't they put those in more people? Only he and Naomi have them so maybe they only work for some people. Whatever. I remember people throwing out all kinds of crazy theories about this game after it came out who they thought that Vamp really did have powers but he could only come back to life if he touches water, since all three times that he dies in MGS2, he either falls in water or in the case of his first death, another character's tears land on his face.

Anyhow, Raiden leaves Snake to recuperate and (after a call from Rosemary) finds the other SEAL team fighting the second member of Dead Cell, Fortune, who is possibly the most emo character ever. She wants to die but believes that she can't because she has a seemingly limitless amount of good luck, to the point where bullets fired at her veer off course and even a grenade fired at her during her first scene doesn't explode. She uses a comically over-sized rail gun to kill the other SEAL team and leaves with Vamp who has the unconscious President in tow, along with an important looking briefcase. Remember that for later.
Now that's a BFG if I've ever seen one. Fortune's got some serious upper body strength.
Raiden calls Campbell with the bad news and is told to switch his priority to bomb disposal to eliminate the terrorists' ability to destroy the Big Shell . Raiden protests, saying that he's no bomb disposal expert but Campbell informs him that an expert just happened to come along with one of the SEAL teams and he's in the next strut over. How convenient.

Raiden finds him in the cafeteria and immediately points his gun at the old, cane dependent man for whatever reason but is soon stopped by Snake who informs Raiden of the man's pedigree. His name is Peter Stillman and he's apparently THE bomb disposal expert and was brought in because a student of his, another bomb expert known as Fatman, happens to be a member of Dead Cell and Peter is the only one good enough to find his bombs.

Peter gives Snake and Raiden sensors that can detect Fatman's cologne, which he apparently puts on every bomb that he makes. He also gives them spray cans full of liquid nitrogen to freeze the bombs so they don't have to worry about defusing them and the developers don't have to make a bomb defusing minigame. I really wanna know if that would actually work.

Raiden and Snake split up and get to work freezing bombs with Raiden taking care of Shell 1 and Snake defusing bombs in Shell 2, but according to Peter, the places where they find them are horrible choices if the terrorists intend to destroy the Big Shell. After another dumb conversation with Rosemary, Raiden is called by a person calling himself Mr. X who warns him to watch out for landmines on one of the connecting bridges between the struts. Okay then.
God dammit, Rosemary. Is now really the best time? I'm just a bit busy DEFUSING BOMBS at the moment.
Raiden comes across Olga Gurlukovich, who is now in control of her father's army (who make up the bulk of the terrorists on the Big Shell by the way) after his death. She speaks with an unknown man over the radio who seems to mistrust her when she tells him that she saw a man dressed as a ninja and another man hiding under a cardboard box. Who would ever question a story like that? Raiden attempts to hold her up but she quickly escapes, leaving him to continue his bomb disposal.

Raiden gets a conference call from Peter and Snake, who says he found a huge cache of explosives at the base of one of the struts, and they don't have Fatman's signature cologne on them. Stillman finally realizes that they've been tricked and heads over to the explosives Snake found and tells the other two to take care of the rest of the bombs while he takes a look at the big one.

As Raiden takes care of his last bomb, Peter tells him to head back to THE AREA WHERE HE STARTED to take care of one last bomb for real this time. Snake takes care of the last bomb on his end when Peter yells that the big batch of explosives has started counting down, forcing Raiden to hurry to his last bomb. He disarms it but Peter calls and says that the big bomb has a proximity trigger that will kill him if he tries to run so there's nothing he can do to save himself. The bomb explodes, killing him and damaging a large portion of one of the struts of Shell 2.

Raiden heads back but runs into Fortune who thinks he is Snake who she believes killed her father, Marine Commandant Dolph. Well there's one source of her emo demeanor. She attacks him relentlessly with her hilariously overpowered rail gun and Raiden is just as helpless as the SEALs with all of the bullets he fires at her veering off course. Adding further insult is the fact that her health bar as you "fight" her is absurdly small.
Vamp suddenly shows up too and prepares to attack Raiden who shoots at Fortune a few more times, causing the bullets to veer right into Vamp, one of them hitting him in the forehead. He collapses and Fortune emos out some  more. Raiden walks right up to her and puts his gun against her head but DOESN'T kill her for God knows what reason. He leaves and we see Fortune crying all over Vamp who suddenly wakes up, saying that he already died once so he can't die again. "Fool me once" taken to the extreme, I suppose.

Campbell tells Raiden that Fatman contacted them and wants to speak to Raiden face to face, so he heads back to the other side of Shell 1 where he disarms another stupidly placed bomb on the heliport when a very strange sight appears. Fatman shows up, wearing a full bomb disposal suit and roller-blades which somehow allow him to move lightning fast despite his apparent weight and the FULL BOMB DISPOSAL SUIT.
Enough talk! Have at y- Wait...I think I already made that joke before...
Fatman is probably the hammiest villain in this game and that's saying something. He gloats about how he beat Peter at his own game and that he'll go down in history, blah blah blah. Raiden strikes a nerve when he calls him a common criminal though and Fatman attacks.

After a ridiculous boss battle involving Fatman skating around and putting bombs all over the place, he gloats that the biggest bomb in the place is set to go off before dying, finally tipping the scales a bit in Raiden's favor. One Dead Cell loony down. Raiden soon finds a novelty sized block of C4 right under Fatman's body and freezes it, ending the bombing threat. Great hiding place for your trump card, dumbass.

After a quick call from Campbell who tells Raiden to switch his priority back to saving the President, Snake calls him up. Raiden asks how Shell 2 is looking after the explosion. Snake replies that its a mess but seems to know nothing about the chemicals that would poison the water if the Big Shell were demolished. Yay, foreshadowing! Snake tells him that he didn't find the hostages anywhere in Shell 2 so they must be in the core of Shell 1, the only place either of them has yet to go.

He tells Raiden that he found a helicopter that they can use to save the hostages and that he brought a "gearhead" with him that can pilot it. I wonder who that could be. The only problem now is that the terrorists have a harrier jet that would make quick work of the helicopter so they need to take care of that first.

Raiden head back down from the heliport and finds himself face to face with a ninja and God dammit. I can't write for one paragraph without craziness happening. The ninja is dressed in a cybernetic suit of armor that looks almost identical to Grey Fox's in MGS1. The ninja says that he is a messenger from the "La Li Lu Le Lo" and despite the fact that they are talking face to face, he calls Raiden on his codec. I guess codec scenes take up less disc space.
Hmm. I'm not the only one recycling lines.
The ninja is apparently Mr. X, the person who warned Raiden about the landmines earlier. He tells Raiden that he knows the location of the person who knows the location of the President. That sentence hurt. The president is apparently being held separately from the rest of the hostages and the head of the secret service, who is among the hostages, somehow knows where the president is. Why would the terrorists discuss that or anything else in front of the hostages? Whatever.

Mr. X exposits further that "we" don't know what Ames looks like or even what their gender is. He DOES know that Ames has a pacemaker and that Raiden can use a long range microphone to listen for it. I'm not kidding. That's the next gameplay segment. Identifying someone by listening to a bunch of hostages heartbeats until you find one that sounds weird. Also, I call bullshit on nobody knowing Ames' gender. He's the ex-husband of MGS1 character Nastasha Ramanenko who wrote the book about MGS1 that made that game's events public knowledge and founded Philanthropy, the anti-Metal Gear group that Snake and Otacon are members of, so Snake and Otacon would know at least. God Dammit.

Anyway, now that my absurd knowledge of obscure Metal Gear facts is out of the way (it'll be back), the Ninja gives Raiden a bunch of fun stuff, including a better security card than Raiden's, a uniform that looks like the terrorists', and a cell phone which Mr. X says he might be glad he has. All righty then.

Mr. X warns Raiden that the terrorists have a nuclear weapon and the briefcase computer thing that is necessary to launch it AND the President's access code for the computer. That is a lot of screw ups on the secret service's part there. Raiden asks how the terrorists could have gotten a nuke and why the President brought the nuclear button with him and Mr. X explains that the Big Shell is actually a cover for a Metal Gear development facility, just like Shadow Moses island in MGS1. He tells Raiden to ask Ames about the rest and quickly disappears when Raiden looks away for a split second.

After a silly gameplay segment where you have to sneak into the core of Shell 1 and get into the hostage room by jamming a terrorist's face into the retina scanner outside, Raiden finally finds Ames with the afore mentioned microphone, pacemaker sillyness. Ames talks for even longer than Mr. X and does the same dumb shit of talking over the codec even though they're face to face. Ames, like Mr. X, claims to be an agent of the "La Li Lu Le Lo" and says that the President is in the core of Shell 2, meaning Snake didn't search very well over there if he managed to miss the PRESIDENT.
Rather than shutting up after giving Raiden the one piece of information he needs to rescue the President, Ames goes on, saying that the hostages wouldn't dare harm the President because the nuclear button is wired to his nanomachines and will shut off if he dies. He also confirms that the Big Shell is nothing more than a front for a Metal Gear R&D facility and that the nuclear button can activate the new model of Metal Gear as well, which is why the President came to the Big Shell.

Ocelot and the as of yet unseen leader of the terrorists show up in a nearby room and Raiden listens in on their conversation. They talk about Fatman and Raiden, wondering if they're both agents of the Patriots and mention that they only need the President for one more hour before they make "that girl" activate Metal Gear.

Olga shows up and demands to know who the ninja is, finding it highly suspicious that Ocelot and a cyborg ninja both happened to be at Shadow Moses and now here in the Big Shell. Apparently she thinks the 60-something year old cowboy might be the ninja himself, even though Grey Fox died at the end of MGS1 and was the one who cut off Ocelot's hand. Whatever.

After a scolding from the terrorist leader, she walks off and Ocelot begins to have some kind off attack, apparently brought on by liquid's arm (though we already know that isn't true.) The terrorist leader complains that they spent a fortune having that arm attached by the best transplant team in the world in Lyon, to which Ocelot repies with probably my favorite line in the game: "I never trust a Frenchman." lolracism

Raiden asks Ames if the terrorist leader is really Solid Snake, to which Ames replies that Snake died when the tanker sank so there would have to be two of him, which he says is impossible. I think Liquid Snake would like to disagree with that. If he wasn't busy being dead and fake possessing Ocelot. He warns Raiden that it won't be long before they launch a nuke, to which Raiden argues that it's nowhere near the ransom deadline.

Ames seems confused and says that detonating a nuke miles above New York has been their goal all along. They plan to shut down the city's power with an electromagnetic pulse and take over Manhattan, making it an independent republic. Apparently an EMP would make police officers and members of the military unable to fight back or else that plan is really, really stupid.

Ocelot strolls up and asks what Raiden (who is still dressed like one of the terrorists) what he's doing with Ames, who says he felt ill. Ocelot calls him a liar and says he knows who he really is: a Colonel working for the Defense Intelligence Agency sent to keep tabs on the President. Ames suddenly dies exactly like Decoy Octopus and Kenneth Baker in MGS1: seemingly for no reason, though it was later revealed to be FOXDIE that killed those two. I'm not explaining FOXDIE again. Read the MGS4 article.

Ocelot pulls Raiden's ski mask off but Mr. X suddenly falls from the ceiling, nearly cutting off Ocelot's arm who manages to dodge just in time. Mr. X covers Raiden, who quickly escapes and makes his way to Shell 2 to rescue the President. Hopefully he's a bad enough dude to do it.

After clearing a shitload of C4 off the connecting bridge between the two Shells, Raiden sees snake and Otacon fly by in the helicopter that they hope to use to rescue the hostages. The terrorist leader shows up and proclaims to be Solid Snake, which irritates the real Snake who yells that he's an imposter. The terrorist leader then calls Snake brother and the game finally introduces him as Solidus Snake. I guess Gas Snake would have sounded silly.

So yeah, we're getting into soap opera parody territory here. A third clone of Big Boss. Lord have mercy. It gets even weirder than that though. The last scene in MGS1 is an off camera discussion between Ocelot and an unknown person on the phone who we can't hear. Ocelot refers to him as Solidus, then Mr. President. That's right. Solidus was the President of the United States just before the current one that he's holding hostage. Wheeeeeee!

The terrorists' harrier jet shows up, piloted by Vamp. Solidus jumps in the gunner seat and prepares to shoot down the helicopter. Snake throws Raiden a rocket launcher and tells him to take down the harrier because I guess a soldier on foot with a rocket launcher would be more effective at taking down a fighter jet than a military helicopter. Whatever.
You'd think a not vampire and a clone of Big Boss in a Harrier would be able to take down a lone soldier in seconds, but whatever.
Raiden, of course manages to take the jet down, which falls into the harbor but is caught by a Metal Gear Ray. Apparently they have those. Solidus was injured during the fight so he sends Vamp off to kill Raiden. Vamp jumps out of the jet and RUNS ON THE WATER. Apparently his super nanomachines let him do that. Allow me to quote the Angry Video Game Nerd here: "...why is this guy walking on water? Who does he think he is, Jesus Christ?"

Raiden calls Snake up and asks him the obvious: are you the real Solid Snake? Instead of doing what I would have and yell "Well duh, moron", Snake is pretty humble about it, talking about all the goofy secret agent philosophical BS from MGS1. The one thing that we DO learn is that Otacon's sister is being held hostage somewhere in the Big Shell. So two Presidents, a not vampire, a woman who can make bullets veer off course, Otacon's sister, and multiple Metal Gears are all here. This game is silly.

Raiden is forced to make his way along the outer wall of Shell 2 since the main entrance was destroyed in the battle and eventually finds his way into the Shell 2 core. As he nears the room the President is in, he comes across Olga talking with Solidus over the radio. They bitch each other out some more about who's the bigger traitor. Meh. The one important thing said here is that the floor right outside the President's room is electrified, much like the lab area in MGS1. Olga leaves and Raiden is forced to do the same thing as Snake in MGS1: find a remote control missile launcher to shoot a missile through a vent and destroy the control panel for the electric floor. Yippee...

After that's dealt with, Raiden FINALLY speaks with the President who, after talking with Raiden for about 10 seconds, I'm not kidding here, grabs his crotch to check his gender. You could have just asked, you creeper. And Raiden isn't THAT girly. Especially in the Japanese language track here he has a really deep, manly voice, but I digress.
The President, whose name is James Johnson by the way, admits that he worked with the terrorists willingly because he though he could get power. Raiden questions this, saying that as the President of the United States so he already has power. President Johnson then forever convolutes the story of Metal Gear by finally explaining the Patriots, which I already spoiled earlier in this article so scroll up if you want that explanation again.

 President Johnson goes on to say that he wished to become a member of the Patriots and I guess betraying them and helping a terrorist group take over New York would really make them take a shine to him. He then talks about Solidus, saying that the events of MGS1 were his doing, which is why he was taken out of office by the Patriots. They intended to assassinate him soon after but Solidus managed to escape and create his army with Dead Cell and the Gurlukovich soldiers.

He then drops maybe the silliest bombshell of them all: the new model of Metal Gear being developed at the Big Shell IS the Big Shell itself. The upper cleanup facility is merely a cover for a huge, underwater Metal Gear known as Arsenal Gear. Arsenal Gear itself is a giant battleship with a payload of thousands of missiles, including nukes and a horde of mass produced Metal Gear Rays to protect it. Arsenal also has full control over the United States military, making it the precursor to the Patriots' SOP system in MGS4. Pretty scary stuff there.

It gets even wackier. Arsenal Gear's purpose is not only to show off the Patriots' military might; it's controlled by an AI called GW that also exists to put a stop to the free flow of information on the internet. That's right; Kojima predicted SOPA a decade ago. lulz

President Johnson then tells Raiden what he has to do: find the last remaining programmer of GW, Emma Emmerich, Otacon's sister. He gives Raiden a disc with a virus on it that Emma can use to destroy GW, rendering Arsenal Gear useless. And Just like that goofy computer virus in MGS4, it's somehow based on the human virus FOXDIE. Bah humbug.

The President then grabs Raiden's arm and points his gun at his chest, ordering Raiden to kill him. Raiden resists but a gunshot rings out and President Johnson falls to the floor. Raiden is shocked and quickly turns around to find Ocelot standing with his revolver barrel smoking. He jokes that his trigger finger must have slipped and bids Raiden farewell, referring to him as "carrier boy" for whatever reason. He leaves and Raiden tries to give chase but President Johnson grabs his leg, telling him to let Ocelot go and to find Emma so they can stop Arsenal Gear.

With that, President Johnson dies and Raiden calls up Colonel Campbell. Campbell claims to know nothing about what the President was talking about but says they should take his claim about Arsenal Gear seriously at the very least and orders Raiden to find Emma.

Raiden calls up Snake and Otacon next. He tells them about the President and asks if they knew about the Big Shell being a cover for Arsenal Gear, which they apparently did. Everybody except Raiden and Campbell seem to know everything going on around here... They tell Raiden about the tanker incident; that it was a set up from the very beginning to create an oil spill so they could make Arsenal Gear without anyone questioning it.

The Patriots also managed to kill two birds with one stone by sullying Snake and Otacon's names so nobody would take their anti-Metal Gear activities seriously. They end the conversation with a strange question: If Ocelot was the one behind the tanker incident, meaning he was working for the Patriots, why did he ally himself with Solidus who wants to destroy them?

Anyway, After an annoying swim through the core of Shell 2, which was flooded after the big bomb went off earlier, Raiden finds Vamp sitting on top of the surface of the water in a pump room. Apparently his super nanomachines allow him to do that too. Even if he really was a vampire, I've never heard of them being able to just stand on water like freakin' Jesus. Uhg, I'm thinking way too hard about dumb shit...
For whatever reason, Vamp tells Raiden that even with the President dead, they have an experimental nuke they can use and Arsenal Gear is already in the process of coming online. They fight it out for a while before Raiden manages to supposedly kill Vamp for a second time and continues on, but not before ANOTHER call from Rosemary who decides to freak out about Raiden never being able to relax near her or some other stupid shit. This is the conversation I mentioned earlier where she freaks out about his room having nothing but a bed in it. I don't know. Rosemary is really weird.

After that nonsense, he manages to find Emma in a locker, just like how Snake found her brother in MGS1. And just like her brother, she wets her pants in terror at the sight of Raiden who points his gun right in her face for whatever reason. He does that to every character he meets, now that I think about it. Moron.

Emma is of course apprehensive about going with a man who just pointed a gun in her face but Raiden eventually convinces her to come along. That is until they get to the flooded area. Emma then refuses to go any farther because she's afraid of water. Then why in the holy hell would you work in a facility that is completely surrounded by it? What-freaking-ever.

Raiden eventually convinces her to hold onto his back so he can do the swimming for both of them and eventually they make it to dry land where they take a break. After some unnecessarily long banter about Otacon and Emma's history, they continue on. As they make their way into another flooded section, Emma delays the inevitable swim by talking about Arsenal Gear and GW.

Apparently she designed GW and knows all about what it's designed for. She reiterates what President Johnson told him about GW censoring the internet and says that the Patriots want to control information at a level where the public will believe literally anything that they say, going as far as to say that they could change the number of letters in the alphabet if they wanted to. She also tells him that Arsenal Gear isn't only a showcase of the Patriots' military might; it mainly exists to protect GW so their control can never be lost.

Not only that, but every other computer in the world also contains a program that works together with GW to regulate the things people post online. Holy shit. Talk about control freaks. Emma says that the system isn't complete yet however, and that the Patriots are planning a major test to see how well they can manipulate the flow of information.

They continue on and find that the way to Shell 1, and the computer room where they have to input the virus, are cut off, so they'll have to use the oil fence right above the water to get there. There are soldiers and robotic sentries along the way so Raiden lets Emma go first as he clears the way with his sniper rifle in probably my favorite segment in the game.
Stay dead already!
Vamp decides to not be dead again though and grabs Emma, holding a knife to her throat and taunting Raiden from a distance. Raiden manages to kill Vamp for the third time but as Emma slowly walks to the end of the oil fence we see that she has a knife wound on her abdomen that is bleeding badly.

Snake rushes over and takes her to the computer room with Raiden quickly following. They begin uploading the virus but it stops at 90%. They wonder if the Patriots tampered with the disc and decide all they can do now is kill Solidus and his men. Emma and Otacon share a soap opera moment before she dies and Otacon cries for like 15 minutes.

He explains why Emma is afraid of water: because their father drowned in their swimming pool when she was young and she nearly drowned as well. Otacon would have helped her but he was busy having sex with his stepmother. I'm not kidding. That's the story he tells here. I swear, this game would be over in like half an hour if characters would stop interrupting the plot with their inane stories.
I know that feel bro
When Otacon finally pulls himself mostly together, they split up, with Otacon going to rescue the hostages and Snake and Raiden heading for Arsenal Gear. Raiden asks how they'll get aboard when Mr. X suddenly falls from the ceiling and reveals his face, or rather HER face. It turns out Mr. X was Olga. She knocks Raiden out and we see a quick scene of Big Shell collapsing and a dark image of Arsenal Gear underwater. The scene again shifts to a black screen where we faintly hear Solidus and Ocelot talking.

As the scene slowly comes into view in a first person perspective, Ocelot says that there is no data anywhere about Raiden, even in the CIA and FBI databases; he's essentially a nonexistent person. Solidus claims to know who he is though. As Raiden's vision clears up, we see that solidus now has an eyepatch over one eye and a couple of Dr. Octopus robot tentacles coming out of his suit. Also, the tentacles say US ARMY on them so I guess Kojima is implying that the United States military has secret robot tentacles. Also giant robots designed to fight other giant robots but whatever.
Solidus calls Raiden "Jack the Ripper" and asks if he remembers him before choking him with one tentacle and scanning his head with the other. He wonders if his memories have been and we finally see Raiden, who is strapped to a rack completely naked. lolz

Solidus pads the game out some more by telling us about Raiden's past. Apparently Raiden was a child soldier in an unknown country under Solidus' command. Solidus also claims to be his godfather. Okay so in addition to being a clone of Big Boss and the President of the United States, Solidus was also the commander of child soldiers in some unknown country, one of which was his godson? What is going on in Kojima's head?
By the way, Raiden's nudity is censored Austin Powers style for this whole scene.
They discuss their plains in front of Raiden for whatever reason, saying that Arsenal Gear will be ready to attack in one hour. After Solidus leaves the room, Ocelot shows Raiden the virus disc before pocketing it and leaving too. Olga shows up and tells Raiden that she's an agent of the Patriots sent to make sure his mission is a success. If you've read my MGS4 article you may already know why but anyway, its because the Patriots are holding Olga's daughter, Sunny, hostage.

She tells him that she'll let him out of his restraints but it's up to him to find Snake who has his gear. She punches him in the stomach for show before stepping out of the room. Rosemary decides to call up but this time it's Raiden's turn to tell a story. He tells her all the creepy details about how the child soldiers were brainwashed with praise and shown violent action movies if they survived the days fighting. Anyone who refused to fight was shot, so it was either fight or die. Man this is getting dark. Moving on.

Raiden's restraints release and he's finally able to leave. Unfortunately he's naked and has no equipment. Queue the funniest gameplay segment in the whole series. That's right! You play as naked Raiden who covers his nudity at all times with at least one hand so you can only use basic attacks; nothing that would require both hands and net this game an AO rating, at least back then.

Adding even more wackiness to an already absurd area is the fact that Colonel Campbell and Rosemary have gone absolutely ape shit insane. They call you literally every few seconds with some crazy shit to say. First, Campbell calls up and tells you to complete the mission acording to the simulation and says "We have Rosemary." Then, they demand that you turn the game off, saying that the mission is a failure and that you'll ruin your eyes sitting so close to the TV. After that, Campbell tells a story about how he was abducted by aliens recently. He'll randomly spout lines from previous Metal Gear games and at one point says one of my favorite lines ever:
Video courtesy of YouTube user snaykscommentaries.

After that madness, Raiden finally finds Snake who thankfully gives him his clothes and equipment back. Rosemary calls up sounding normal again, and speaks with Raiden for a moment, telling him that she's a patriot spy who was tasked with monitoring him from the moment they met and reveals that she's pregnant with his child before her signal is cut off.

Snake warns Raiden that there's a horde of soldiers that they'll have to fight through and a production line of at least 25 Metal Gear Rays that they may have to contend with as well. Raiden starts to feel some self doubt but Snake gives him a pep talk, telling him not to dwell on the past and to find something to believe in for the future. Otacon calls them up to tell them that the hostages are safe and Raiden tells him about how strange Campbell and Rosemary were acting all of a sudden. Otacon tells him that he'll look into it and they continue on.

They fight through a horde of Solidus' most elite troops and get another call from Otacon who drops another wacky bombshell: The Colonel's transmissions have been originating from inside Arsenal Gear and they have the same encryption protocol as GW. That's right, folks! Raiden has been talking to Arsenal Gear for the entire game. Let me quote Ayla from Chrono Trigger here and say "No more rubbish or head go BOOM!"

Otacon goes on to say that the Colonel isn't just the Arsenal Gear AI, he's also a figment of Raiden's imagination which GW created to control him and the virus they partially uploaded has started to take effect, explaining the Colonel's bizarre behavior. BOOM! There goes my head. Raiden starts to freak out, wondering if anything is real but Snake again snaps him out of it and they move on.

The Colonel or GW or whatever calls up again frantic, saying that "they have Rosemary," which Raiden's dumb ass falls for AGAIN. They continue on regardless and fight even more soldiers in a crazy fight where the screen will randomly flash white and a fake game over screen will display for a few seconds before returning to normal.
Also, for the duration of the "Fission Mailed" screen, gameplay is squeezed into a tiny box in the corner. And I don't know how one would mail a nuclear reaction but it certainly would be a good trick.
After the soldiers are dealt with, Fortune shows up and Snake tells Raiden to go ahead while he fights with her. Raiden soon finds himself in cyberspace or something. I don't know. Just go with it. I think I said the exact same thing at one point in my MGS4 article...

Solidus can be heard in the distance, taunting Raiden some more, saying that he's the proud achievement of the "S3 program," which stands for "Solid Snake Simulation." The Patriots wanted to create a soldier on par with Snake, so they trained Raiden with virtual reality and sent him in to stop the Big Shell takeover to test his abilities in a real world situation.

Solidus suddenly rockets into view, along with a horde of Metal Gear Rays. He sics them on Raiden who manages to hold them back for a while with the missile launcher that he somehow still has from when he fought the harrier. He collapses from exhaustion after defeating a few of them and Olga is forced to reveal her betrayal of Solidus as she comes to Raiden's defense. She tells him that his nanomachines are transmitting his vital signs to the Patriots so if he dies, Sunny dies too.

Solidus Jumps back into view and immediately kills Olga and waves at the Metal Gear Rays to continue their attack. Instead of attacking just Raiden however, they start going nuts and go after Solidus too. Ocelot yells over the loudspeaker that GW is out of control and Arsenal Gear is on an emergency ascent course. Solidus immediately blames the Patriots like he always does and forget what I said about the scene early in the game with Ocelot killing all those guys being the best one in the game. This one is waaaaay cooler:
Video brought to us by and YouTube user Dragonarh.

For those who don't feel like watching video clip (or if the video is removed, which wouldn't surprise me), Solidus kills the shit out of the remaining Metal Gear Rays and decides not to kill Raiden because he "still has some use." As Fortune walks up with Snake in handcuffs, Solidus knocks Raiden unconscious with an electric shock.

Raiden wakes up on top of Arsenal Gear along with Snake, Solidus, Fortune, Ocelot and an inactive Metal Gear Ray. Solidus picks up Raiden by the neck with on of his robot tentacles and begins to choke him. Fortune begins to walk off, saying that she has business to attend to but stops when Solidus asks if she's planning to hijack Arsenal Gear. She immediately gives herself away by asking who talked but Solidus tells her that he planned to give it to her in the first place because it's useless without a crew of hundreds and support from other vehicles. He tells her that his objective was never to keep Arsenal Gear, but to get a list of names of the Patriots so he can hunt them down and kill them.

Ocelot begins to laugh and tells Solidus that the Patriots orchestrated everything that happened in the Big Shell. They had Ocelot sink the tanker to create the cover for the Big Shell, sent in Olga, her soldiers and Fatman, killed Ames with his own nanomachines, told President Johnson what to say to Raiden, and created the virus that infected GW to make sure every scrap of information on the Patriots identities were deleted. They even had Ocelot kill Commandant Dolph, Fortune's father, to provoke Dead Cell (They also killed Fortune's husband and two other members of Dead Cell named Chinaman and Old Boy. I am not making that up.) The entire Big Shell incident was a recreation of the events of MGS1 to test Raiden's abilities.

Fortune realizes that all her emo rage has been Ocelot's fault the whole time and readies her rail gun. Ocelot quickly shoots at her and the bullet doesn't veer of course this time; it hits her right in the heart. He tells her she doesn't have any powers; she's been protected by a magnetic shield generator the whole time. Fortune manages to stand back up and fires a shot at Ocelot which is deflected the same way as her shield. He pats a rectangular device on his belt, the same type of shield generator that protected Fortune. Apparently that magnet shield can deflect lightning or whatever the hell Fortune's crazy gun shoots out.

Ocelot remarks that Fortune's heart is on the right (which is apparently a real world heart defect), but doesn't shoot her again for whatever reason. Instead he jumps in Metal Gear Ray's cockpit as Solidus uselessly shoots at him. Ocelot fires a hail of bullets out of Ray's machine gun at Solidus who deflects all of them with a pair of swords. One of the deflected bullets breaks Snake's handcuffs as Ocelot unleashes a hail of missiles upon the others. Fortune slowly steps in front of the others and somehow deflects the attack by holding her hands forward. I guess she really does have powers.

The effort proves too great for her though and she falls to the ground, dead. Ocelot decides to get fake possessed again and we see that Liquid is such a ham that he even make Metal Gear Ray stand up tall in a proud pose as he speaks. Not Liquid claims he was the one who leaked the information about Arsenal Gear to Otacon so Snake would make his appearance and says that he's off to kill the Patriots. Snake decides to be a reckless moron and chase after Metal Gear Ray as it dives into the water but diving in at the SAME TIME.
Oh, Liquid. Is there no scene that you can't fill with camp?
Arsenal Gear starts moving fast and crashes into Manhattan Island where Raiden and Solidus fly off and land on Federal hall, which is about 10 miles from the Verrazano bridge which they pass under during the cutscene but whatever. After they recover, Solidus starts his dumb villain speech about how he's the real good guy here but is interrupted by the longest codec conversation in the game.

An unknown Patriot AI (Speculated to be JD, the head Patriot AI in MGS4) calls Raiden up and starts babbling on and on about all kinds of crazy shit. It's actually a pretty interesting scene. The Patriots believe that the freedom of the internet allows too much "junk data" to pile up and is a threat to human evolution. The AI reveals that S3 does not stand for "Solid Snake Simulation," but rather "Selection for Societal Sanity."

The Big Shell disaster and Raiden's mission were the ultimate test of the S3 program's ability to control an individual. Raiden was selected because of his relationship with Solidus as a soldier under his command and because he was the only one out of all the child soldiers that they could have used who refused to accept the past. They consider him to be a perfect representative of the masses they wish to control. They give him his final mission objective: Kill Solidus. He refuses at first but they remind him that they are holding Sunny and Rosemary hostage.

The codec conversation finally ends and Solidus decides to give Raiden some motivation by telling him that he was the one who killed his parents. Queue the dramatic impact sound effect. Anyway, Solidus gives Raiden a sword for whatever reason and they fight it out. Even with Solidus' robot suit and myriad of abilities, Raiden manages to overcome him and land a killing blow.

Solidus stumbles to the edge of the building and falls to the street below, landing behind the memorial statue of George Washington. Solidus makes a futile reach up to the father of our country before finally dying. Raiden climbs down to the street as people converge on the disaster when Snake suddenly shows up. God knows how he managed to get from the New York Harbor to Federal Hall so quickly but whatever this is Metal Gear.
Snake tells him a bunch of motivational stuff about finding something to believe in and whatever. He takes out the virus disc that Ocelot supposedly too and says they gave Raiden a fake one to throw Ocelot off. They hope to sift through the virus data and find out who the Patriots really are. He tells Raiden to stay alive until they can rescue Sunny and leaves just as Rosemary walks up.

Raiden finally remembers why Rosemary has been harassing him for the whole game about what's so special about today: its the day they met. Dumbass. They decide to get married and the credits roll. But the game's not over yet. Snake monologues about the importance of passing on our history to the coming generation, which is the theme of this game: Memes. No not freaking Rick roll or some other dumb shit. I mean the real definition of the word Meme: the passing of ideas and culture to the next generation. Passing on what our genes can't.
By the way...
Vamp is in the ending.
Anyway, the screen fades to black and we hear a conversation between Snake and Otacon. Otacon found the names of the Patriots and one of them is a contributor to Philanthropy. The only problem is: they've all been dead for about a hundred years. DUN DUN DUN!!!

God, I really need to work on my summaries. That shit was way too long. But just as in my Metal Gear Solid 4 and Persona 4 articles, it was worth it. Metal Gear Solid 2 had soooo much to live up to for me. MGS1 was my favorite game at the time it came out and every trailer for the game was like hype crack. I just couldn't have been more excited. So did it live up to my expectations? Yep.

Let me address the first thing that many people hate about MGS2: Raiden. They see him as a bad replacement for Snake, and feel like they were lied to by all the pre-release information that only showed Snake in the tanker. That was the point. This whole game is about information manipulation. And what better way to manipulate the player than to make them think they'll be playing as their favorite character than to make them play as another for most of the game? I really gotta hand it to Hideo Kojima and his team. They pulled off one of the most impressive bait and switches in the history of fiction.
See Raiden anywhere on the back of the box?
People also complain about how weird the game is. First off: it's a Metal Gear game. Second: I agree with the theory that the game is meant to be postmodern. Postmodern art rejects the norm and approaches things from an angle that the viewer, or in this case, player, may find alien or even uncomfortable. Raiden's design is the first indication of that. He has a slender, androgynous build and strange, white hair that you don't see too often. He also does and says things that are just slightly off, like the way he points his gun at every character he meets like an idiot.

Slightly off is a good way to describe many elements of MGS2. The Big Shell section of the game is meant to mirror MGS1 and in many ways it does, but everything just feel a bit strange. Elements of various characters from MGS1 are split up and mixed around in characters that Raiden meets. Vamp for example, dresses like Liquid Snake, has otherworldly powers and superhuman strength like Vulcan Raven, and slaughters a group of soldiers with a bladed weapon like Grey Fox. He behaves in such a strange, alien fashion though, which just makes him feel, well, weird. There's little details like that all over MGS2 that add up to an experience that brings the player out of their comfort zone.

Moving on from that... From a gameplay standpoint, MGS2 was absolutely stellar back in the day, though after playing through it again for this article, it feels a bit dated. The game has a fixed camera meaning you'll have to be careful and check around every corner and make good use of the radar to get through the game without being spotted. Combat isn't that bad, but you either have to auto aim in third person, or switch to first person where you can be more precise, but you can't move while in first person mode.

The controls are essentially the same as MGS1 though they switched one or two buttons around. It's a fairly simple setup that take a few minutes to memorize but it sticks with you if you play enough. The Metal Gear games are pretty fair as far as balance and difficulty go, so if something goes wrong, it's usually the player's fault.

Just like the gameplay, MGS2's visuals were amazing back in the day, but haven't aged that well. This was one of the last games that I really thought had the best graphics there would ever be. I eventually stopped being an imbecile and realized that graphics would only improve but back then it was quite an amazing sight to behold. Especially the early trailers that came out before the PS2 was even released. That first trailer blew my mind like no other.

The music is really good, though it's probably my least favorite soundtrack overall in the whole series. It isn't bad at all and the music that plays during gameplay is great. It's just that the cutscene music feels a bit too cliched at times. Hollywood composer Henry Gregson-Williams was brought in for the first time on this game and he contributed a good chunk of the game's soundtrack. Though my favorite songs by far were composed by series regular Norihiko Hibino. The highlights being the alert music in the Big Shell section and the Dead Cell boss music. I'll put both of those at the end.

Metal Gear Solid 2 is probably the biggest departure for the series and I can understand why many people dislike it. It is a bizarre game with a protagonist designed to be hard to like. Almost every element of the game feels a bit strange but for that reason I adore it.

Metal Gear Solid 2 is available on a number of platforms. It was originally a PS2 exclusive but was soon ported to Xbox and PC with an enhanced special edition titled Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance released on all three of those platforms. Substance added a variety of extra content with the PS2 version receiving the bulk of it if I'm not mistaken. Substance was recently released again on PS3 and 360 in the Metal Gear Solid HD collection which also includes 4 other games. There's also a Vita port of MGS HD in the works so you have a number of options, though if the core game is all you care about and you have a way to play PS2 games, you can get the original MGS2 for literally a few bucks online.

I always feel like ending my top 5 articles with some kind of statement about why you should buy a given game and I really wish I was a better writer so I didn't feel compelled to do that all the time. Regardless, Metal Gear Solid 2 is a very interesting experience that is a bit hard to get into on its own but if you read up on the previous Metal Gear games a bit, you may find it worth your time.

My game of the year 2001!
A survival horror masterpiece that explores areas of the human psyche that most games steer clear of.

I'll leave you with exactly the songs I said I would play at the end. The first is Battle, the alert music during the Big Shell area, and the second is Yell Dead Cell, the boss battle music that plays as you fight members of Dead Cell. Both Videos are brought to us by YouTube use LarsAlexandersonSH:

1 comment:

  1. this whole series are my fav games EVER because even with all the confusing shit it still managed to make a lot of sense. awesome review